Derry no match for conference champs
MT. PLEASANT--Mt. Pleasant clinched the Keystone Conference title back on Oct. 19 with a hard-fought win over Uniontown, but instead of taking it easy last Friday night against winless Derry Area, the Vikings played as though they were on a mission.
The Vikings, coached by Marc Lyons, rolled up 409 yards in total offense en route to a convincing 48-7 win over the Trojans, who are in the midst of a 23-game losing streak.
The visiting Trojans (0-9, 0-6 Keystone) started off on a promising note with a drive that saw them penetrate to the Viking 35-yard line, but, much to the disappointment of head coach Ron Polinsky, the drive fizzed, and it was all downhill for the Trojans from that point on.
"This has happened a lot to us this season an in every case we just seem to go flat, we just can't seem to build up any momentum," said Polinsky.
The Trojans looked good on the drive, which was highlighted by a 25-yard run by Josh Hemminger, who played well all night.
Mt. Pleasant (7-2, 6-0) went on top with 2:56 remaining in the opening quarter when Jake Hoffer scored from six yards out to a cap an 11-yard play drive. Matt Remaley's extra point gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead.
The Vikings, who will host the Trinity Hillers tonight in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs, moved out to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter when Nathan Kopcho caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Sawlsville.
Senior Nathan Harr, Derry Area's leading rusher, went down in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not re-enter the game.
To make matters even worse, lineman Nathan Connelly and Ryan Harr also left the game with injuries.
Two other Trojans -- Matt Patterson and Dominic Hoffman, both running backs, are still recovering from injuries.
The Trojans closed out their season at home Thursday night with an exhibition game against against Southmoreland and Polinsky did not know what adjustments to his lineup would have to be made with regard to injuries.
The only other bright spot in the game for Derry Area came with 4:37 left in the opening half when Ryan Hauser caught a three-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Kelly. Josh George converted the extra point and the Trojans trailed 14-7.
But the Vikings answered with 1:51 remaining in the opening half when Sawlsville scored from five yards out and with Remaley's extra point MP led 21-7 and that spelled the beginning of the end for Derry Area.
Lyons kept his starters in the game for most of the third quarter, and they responded by putting 13 more points on the scoreboard. The first score of the second half came on a one-yard plunge by Dan Sivak.
Sawlsville threw his second touchdown pass of the game later in the third frame when he hit Chet Welc with a 39-yard strike. Remaley's extra point made it 34-7, but the Vikings were far from done.
The Vikings would add 14 points in the final frame to turn the game into a complete rout. The first fourth quarter score came on a one-yard run by Steve Bulebosh and the second came on a 51-yard interception of a pass from Kelly to Derek Mellors.
Hoffer, who had quite a night for the Vikings with 132 yards on 17 carries, made his way into the school's record book when he joined the 1,00-yard club.
Polinsky believes that the Vikings have an excellent chance of advancing in the playoffs because they are very physical and have wealth of skilled personnel.
"Mt. Pleasant is the kind of football team that can really wear an opponent down. They are extremely strong up front," Polinsky added.
Polinsky is hoping that the Keystone Conference, which has not won a playoff game since the 2000 season, will make a strong comeback this year.
He feels that Mt. Pleasant and Belle Vernon, which will host West Allegheny, will have the best shot at advancing.
Laurel Highlands will be traveling to Thomas Jefferson while the Ringgold Rams will visit Montour.
"Without question the playoffs are the most exciting time of the year in high school football -- every team has the ultimate goal of getting there," Polinsky said.